Sunday, November 5, 2017

But You Speak So Well

Whenever I am with a large group of black people, particularly women, I feel more judged than at any other time in my life.  I feel excluded.  No matter what the setting, there are some black women who seem so intent on preserving their clique that they push other black people away.  I have experienced this the most in professional and fitness groups.

If I had a dollar for every time some white person said to me "Good for you" when they find out I have a technical career or "You speak so well" when they meet me in person after only speaking to me on the phone or via e-mail and not realizing that I'm black.  I know that other black professionals experience this.  I find comfort in having this confirmed in online forums.  I am not the only one who struggles to exist in a atmosphere that is still very much predominantly male and white.  I am not the only one who has been asked to make coffee or copies when someone comes into the office and assumes that I must be a secretary. 

But when I meet my black peers in person I feel the exact same discomfort that I do from my white peers at work.  I want to be supportive of these organizations because they need to exist but, whenever I attend any events in person, I find the hypocrisy difficult to stomach.  At least if I never meet them in person I don't have to deal with the reality that these people don't really have my back.  That they don't get me or care about me.  That the occasional "troll-like' posts that exist in these forums online are more prevalent in person. 

I have found that a lot of other black people have experienced the same thing and now boycott these events.  I have made more black friends through mainstream organizations than through the black-centric ones.  I don't know what this means in the current racial and political climate but it seems like now more than ever we should be supporting each other rather than tearing each other down. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rinse and Repeat

You have a terrible day.  Everything that can go wrong does.  And all of it could have been avoided if you prepared better.  If you balanced your time.  If after 40 years on earth you had gained time management skills.  So you tell yourself, this is my rock bottom.  I will never let this happen again.  I will get my sh%t together and not ever have another day like this again.  

And you will be better….for a little while.  Maybe a day, hell maybe a whole month.  But in the end, if you don’t make any big changes you will fall into the same old patterns.  Sure you’ll dodge a couple bullets.  You’ll pull an all-nighter to prepare for your presentation. Your class will get cancelled because of bad weather, giving you another week to prepare.  But it will catch up to you eventually.  It always does.  

At that point you’ll have that same conversation with yourself.  You’ll say never again but you’ll remember that you’ve said this before.  You are angry at yourself. You can’t believe that it’s gotten this bad again.  So you feel sorry for yourself for a day and you start again tomorrow.  Hoping that this time is the last time and you’ve truly learned your lesson.    

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Moderation is a Dirty Word

I’m not sure why it is so difficult for me to do anything in moderation.  I complain that people say I have a bottomless pit for a stomach.  That I always clean my plate and everyone else’s plate.  This has basically been my claim to fame amongst family and friends since I was a little kid.  I get offended by this and then proceed to do exactly what they said I would do.  Sometimes the food doesn’t even taste good and I’m thinking that I only have a few bites to go through to get to the end.  Maybe I don’t want to offend someone if they’ve prepared a meal, or I don’t want to waste food that I’ve paid for.  Or I like the attention, even though it’s negative.  I don’t know.  Either way, my waistline isn’t getting any smaller and no matter how many miles I run in a week, the 1000 extra calories that go to 2nd helpings and dessert aren’t helping. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Traveling While Black

I frequently find myself in some of the trendiest/most expensive restaurants in a city when I travel for work.  The beauty of having a job that makes you travel is the blank check that comes along with it.  All of my expenses are covered by my job so I tend to live it up.

Unfortunately, I am not always treated nicely in these trendy, expensive places.  Depending on where I am traveling, I am often the only black person or the only single person in a restaurant.  I know that some people hold a bias against black diners because they believe that black people don't tip well.  Now let me say, I definitely know black people that live up to the stereotype but I also know a lot of white people who are bad tippers. 

I've also been told that black women are finicky diners who complain about their food and try to get things for free.  If my food is bad I might complain but if the service is crappy I might just suck it up to get the night over with.  But these biases put me in a terrible situation. If I receive bad service I shouldn't leave a big tip but if I don't leave a big tip it just feeds into their bias and makes them treat the next person even worse.

Tonight I dined alone at a trendy restaurant in a major city.  I saw people who arrived after me get served before me.  My drink order never came so I had to ask the person who brought my food to check on my drink.  My waiter never checked on me after he took my order.  I'm pretty sure I was overcharged for my dinner but it took so long to get the bill (and remember it's not my money) that I didn't want to risk sending it back. 

Not that it should matter but I was dressed in my work clothes.  A nice blouse and slacks.  My wedding ring is kind of big and I carry a designer purse.  If you were going to stereotype someone as cheap it wouldn't be me.  That's all I'm saying.

So what did I do?  I left a big tip and walked out feeling discriminated against.  I will mention the bad service on my Yelp review but the food was good and the spot was trendy so that won't keep people away.  If I mentioned to management that I felt their waiters discriminated against some diners they wouldn't believe it.  This is a very diverse big city with an equally diverse clientele.  But I was there tonight and I know what I experienced.